Sierra Colt of San Diego, CA
This week’s Artist Spotlight is on Sierra Colt of Bearcat Tattoo Gallery located in the Little Italy section of San Diego, CA. Sierra Colt is one of California’s top artists both on and off the skin. Sierra’s tattoo work and oil paintings are some of the best we have seen.
You have been in the tattoo industry for over 15 years, did you always want to be a tattoo artist? Have you always been into art?
I always gravitated towards art through high school and beyond. A family friend that was a tattoo artist sent me out some flash to color up my senior year. I colored a Phoenix and a friend in art class used the overhead to project it on my back. That moment alone stands out in my mind that I would be involved in tattoos.
How old were you when you got your first tattoo? What was it? An story behind it?
I moved in with some friends during the middle of high school and at one point we had a “tattoo artist” living with us. He had a full tattoo area set up and it seemed semi-legit at the time. But somehow I actually waited until I was 18 to get my first tattoo. I probably dodged a bullet there for sure. My first tattoo was like 30 different elements in one. I had the ocean, sun, a drop of blood, a hand coming out of a heart holding this made up symbol and on and on. Yeah it’s covered now!
Did you do a traditional apprenticeship?
My first tattoo machines were ordered straight out of the back of a magazine. NOT recommended BTW! I learned as much as I could from a nurse friend about sterility. I practiced on myself, friends, and what not but it was a really slow process. Finally I flew up to Buffalo, NY to work with that same family friend that gave me the flash. This shop was really busy and they just threw me right in the mix. I basically learned on Cherry Creek flash and tribal stonework. The crew I worked with were all good artists so I watched as much as I could and quickly picked up some technique.
How do you feel the tattoo industry has changed over the years? For the better or worse?
Our industry is moving at lightning speed right now. Our machines are better, our ink is better and the artistry level is amazing. Through social media we see within minutes the latest work from the best artists in the world. I can get inspiration in the morning for my client in the afternoon. Back in the day we would wait 6 months to a year to see new work in magazines. I feel like it was a real slow progression back then. Now it’s instantaneous.
Another big tattoo influence has been the reality tattoo shows. These shows love them or hate them have really brought the tattoo industry to the main stream. We see our clients with a clearer vision of how to do a tattoo consultation. They are more willing to let us get creative and they are going bigger with their work. The downside is some of them think you can finish a half sleeve in the same time it takes for one show to air.
What artist(s) have influenced you and your work over the years?
One of my first influences was bugs. He really stepped out of the box and created art on the skin. My style is nothing like his but his art gave me the encouragement to push some boundaries and to not stay so single directional. I also thought Jon Clu was amazing. He was one of the first hyper realistic guys. I started seeing some Philip Lou pieces here and there and Horiyoshi as well. Both seemed very illusive but influenced. But then things really opened up. It seemed overnight there were amazing artist everywhere. Shige, Gogue, Dmitri Samohain, Pallochini and so many more. I follow hundreds or artists on Instagram that are all amazing. It’s an amazing time to be a tattoo artist.
From your tattoo portfolio you seem to gear a lot of your art towards the Japanese style; have you always been drawn to that style?
I always appreciated Japanese artwork. I think it really started making sense after about 10 years in the industry. I started doing much larger pieces and was real focused on the flow and the way a piece works with the entire body. Japanese artwork and tattoo thinks about the overall appearance. If my subject matter is not Japanese it will have to flow and foundation behind it.
You have been a consultant of one of my favorite movie franchises, The Hangover. You were responsible for the scene in where Stu gets the famous “Mike Tyson” face tattoo; how was it working ib a movie set vs a tattoo studio?
HA HA! Well we did not actually do the face tattoo, the makeup artists did the application. My job was to supply the background art and all the stencils that hung on the walls. They used some paintings as well. During the end credits of the movie you can really see my art. We also set dressed the onset tattoo studio. Everything from creating the correct tattoo station set up to the perfect color of the green soap. It’s crazy how fast these prop designers and set designers work. It’s like lightning speed to get ready for the shoot. The director Todd Phillips randomly stopped in to meet us and check out the set. It was a very cool experience.
If you could be tattooed by any artist who would it be and what would you get?
I think I would enjoy going to Italy and getting work from Andrea Pallocchini. I’ve visited Italy before and would love to see more. Also Peter Lagergren in Sweden. Half my family is from there so I feel like a trip to the motherland would be cool. Both their art is amazing. I would really see what they are currently into and give them a piece of my skin.
Do you attend any tattoo shows or conventions? If so which are you planning to attend?
I am really looking to do a few more conventions next year (2016). I’ve been looking for something new, maybe a convention in another country. If anyone has some good recommendations please hit me up. I have enjoyed the West Coast area for a while. I would like to see other places.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Some of my current large scale projects will get finished over the next year. A couple of years in the making on some. My other passion is oil painting, I am working hard to create more painting time and committing to a larger solo show next spring.
We know you currently have a wait list for appointments but what is the best way for someone to book an appointment with you?
I have gotten to the point where I can’t take everything on. About 30 new projected a year is my limit. It’s consistently a solid 6 month wait to start so definitely book early. If you like my work and are open to ideas and letting me be creative then we definitely should do a consult and setup an appointment. My email is email@example.com and my website is http://sierracolt.com. Let me know your idea and the area you are interested in working on. If you are out of state we can “face time” a consult as well.
~ ☠ AnoTat2 ∴